Workout Meals 101: Build Muscle & Stay Lean with a Proper Meal Plan
Building muscle is no easy and a big part of it is hitting the gym on a regular basis. Sure working out helps you build muscle but what is also crucial for muscle growth is rest and nutrients. This is why an important part of building muscle is having a meal plan that will help fuel your muscles. That being said, since nowadays we are all busier than ever, having a well thought out workout meal plan delivered on a weekly basis can save you a lot of time. This way you’ll be able to focus on your workouts and other aspects of your life. But how do you incorporate this meal plan and what should you include in it?
Is Pre Workout Meal Necessary?
A pre workout meal is definitely necessary since it can provide your body with the energy it needs to give your best during workouts.
Pre Workout Meals
What to eat
Your diet fitness plan should include meals meant for pre and post workout periods. Meals for workout that contain a good balance of carbohydrates and protein should be incorporated into your pre workout plan. This is because carbohydrates provide your body with energy and protein helps supply your muscles with amino acids which is what you’ll need to reach that rep goal. This doesn’t mean that fat isn’t needed, it’s just that the intake should be considerably lower than both carbs and protein.
A good rule of thumb for pre-workout meals is that they should contain about 0.50 g of carbs and protein per kg of your body weight goal. Good examples of pre-workout meals include trail mix, greek yogurt, peanut butter and jelly, and oatmeal with fruits and milk. Your meals can include foods such as legumes, cheese, eggs, fish, sweet potatoes and whole grains.
When to eat
There should be a time gap between your pre-workout meal and your workout. This period is usually anywhere between 1 to 3 hours and it can vary depending on what you ate and how fast your metabolism is. Eating meals for workout that contain meat will take longer to digest no matter how fast your metabolism is and they should be consumed closer to the 3 hour gap. Shakes and smoothies are easier to digest and they should be taken about an hour or an hour and a half before you hit the gym.
How Long After a Meal Can I Workout?
Since not everybody is the same when it comes to this, working out after a meal should be done within a 2-3 hour time frame. If you eat 3 hours prior to your workout, you might want to have a snack 1 hour before your workout. Exercising on an empty stomach can make your digestive system use muscle tissue instead of the nutrients you would otherwise supply it with.
Is Post Workout Meal Necessary?
Yes, a post workout meal is as important as a pre-workout meal, if not more important as during this period the body needs calories to help repair muscle fibres. This is the recovery phase where your body needs to rest but also grow the muscle groups you’ve been working out. This is considered as the more important period since all the “magic” happens after you’ve hit the gym.
Post Workout Meals
Post-workout meals should also contain a good balance of proteins and carbs (protein contents should be higher than carbs). Fat can also be included but it should be at a minimal level. Protein and carbs together will give your body that much needed glycogen which your body used up during the workout. Protein helps repair and build muscles while carbohydrates help with recovery.
What to Eat
The first thing you should consume after working out is water. You’ve lost so much during your workout and it is essential not just for muscle growth but for the overall functioning of your body. Bananas, apples, whey protein and peanut butter are all recommended. You can also eat a salad with chicken and quinoa, beef stir-fry with some vegetables and brown rice, kale salad with corn and shrimp or chicken or turkey meat with some sweet potato.
When to Eat
It is recommended to eat soon after a workout as the body needs to replenish what has been lost. Consuming your workout meals within 30 minutes/up to an hour after a workout is the best time frame. Make sure you don’t go without eating for more than 2 hours after a workout. This is because during this period, after your workout, your body is susceptible to protein and carbs. This period is called the anabolic window. This is why you’ll want your meals to be ready in advance, so you can supply your muscles with the nutrients they need without the hassle of preparing food.